Town approves move to more digital publication of municipal notices

MINTO – Council here has approved a move toward publishing more public notices in “digital environments” despite concern from some councillors about abandoning print media notices.

A Dec. 17 report from deputy clerk Annilene McRobb explained the Municipal Act requires municipalities to have a public notice policy.

The town’s existing policy bylaw, approved in 2011, sets out the form and manner in which notice is provided, “which in many instances is by publication in the newspaper,” the report states.

However, McRobb noted, the 2011 bylaw “actually gives a little bit more ability for the clerk’s department to choose.

“One thing I would like is to utilize our website a little better on part of our public notices,” she added.

“I have some concerns about using the website,” said councillor Jean Anderson.

“I understand (using) the website, but  there’s a lot of senior citizens here and they don’t use email … where are we covered if we post a notice or change a notice and it’s only on the website and nowhere else and they don’t know? Does that leave us open? … I just think we should leave it in the papers as well.”

“That’s certainly up to council,” said McRobb noting the online-only publication would be considered a minimum standard and council and departments would be free to utilize newspaper advertising as well.

“I just think there’s a lot of our community that the internet is not the first thing they go to to find news. They count on the newspaper and they look for it eagerly every week,” said Anderson.

“That is almost exactly what I was going to say,” said councillor Judy Dirksen.

“I think it’s very important that we keep supporting our newspapers too,” said Mayor George Bridge. “We’re blessed to have some newspapers still. There’s lot of places that don’t have them anymore.”

Bridge continued, “I think what Annilene wants is some flexibility on some of the smaller items.”

Anderson noted newspaper publicity generated  for the Community Christmas event she hosts with her husband Dave Anderson each Dec. 25 is very effective.

“It doesn’t really ramp up until it hits the newspaper and then we get calls,” she stated.

“And without revenues, the newspapers aren’t going to be there, so it’s a catch-22,” said Bridge.

Council approved the report and passed a revised bylaw that specifies newspaper advertising must be used for notices regarding establishment of wards or an auction of seized property, but other types may be provided via the town’s website or as required by legislation.